A nightmare to a dream as my baby was saved

Chris, Sophie and baby Arianna.
Chris, Sophie and baby Arianna.

Faced with every parent’s nightmare, her newborn baby seriously ill and in intensive care, mum Sophie Mei Lan struggled to talk to those around her about what was happening.

Instead, on the advice of a nurse caring for little Arianna, she snatched brief moments to record her thoughts in a video diary.

She has now used these recordings to make a film about her experiences to thank the “amazing” NHS staff who cared for Arianna and offer hope to other parents in a similar situation.

Arianna was just two months old when she became seriously ill while on a day out to the Hepworth Wakefield with Sophie, 27, and older sister Jasmine, three, in February.

“Suddenly our lives were turned upside down,” Sophie said. “I was carrying Arianna in her sling when she stopped breathing. She was grey and lifeless, with blood pouring out of her nose and mouth. It was my worst nightmare.”

Paramedics resuscitated Arianna at the gallery and rushed her to Pinderfields Hospital. She was later taken the paediatric intensive care unit at Leeds General Infirmary, where she stayed for a week, with Sophie and dad Chris Hale constantly at her side.

Sophie, a former Morley Observer reporter and now a BBC journalist, started filming snippets of a diary as Arianna improved.

“We couldn’t have asked for better emergency treatment from the paramedics, the doctors and nurses,” she said. “We thought we’d lost her but at least we knew she had the best chance possible.

“I started filming Save My Baby as a kind of therapy during such a traumatic time as I struggled to talk to anyone. I later decided to turn it into a film to say thank you to all the NHS staff, the children’s hospital charity who fund the Embrace ambulance and to everyone who has given blood, as Arianna had blood transfusions and life-saving treatment from the most caring people I have ever met.”

Arianna is now fully recovered from her illness, which was caused by flu and pneumonia, and is back home with her family in Wakefield.

“There’s nothing as hurtful as seeing your child ill in a critical way, but hopefully this will show parents there can be a way through it.”

The film, Save My Baby, has been produced as part of a BBC pilot project and can be seen on YouTube.